California's courthouses are in such bad shape
that the state could face repair bills in the hundreds of millions of
dollars, according to a report issued last month.
The Task Force on Trial Court Facilities
estimated that between $281 million and $338 million will be required
annually for 10 years in order to meet the current needs of
California's 451 court facilities. The report also estimates the
annual cost for new facilities to meet projected growth through 2020
is $104 million for 20 years.
Those figures are above the $140 million annual
cost of operating, maintaining and administering existing facilities.
Recommending that the state assume full financial
responsibility for court facilities, the task force said the decision
on funding requires immediate attention. "The courts face an
uncertain future while responsibility for trial court facilities is
unresolved," the task force said. "With unclear responsibility for
provision of facilities, and limited local resources, many projects
and needed upgrades to trial court facilities are stalled."
After visiting all the court facilities in
California during a two-and-a-half year study, the panel concluded
that a significant number of court buildings require repair,
renovation or maintenance. Among its findings:
of all usable area for court operations is located in buildings rated
21 percent of all courtrooms are rated deficient for current use,
principally due to the holding, security or in-custody access.
The facility needs most commonly identified
include security and safety improvements, increased accessibility for
the disabled, relief from overcrowding in staff support areas,
re-roofing and replacement of heating, ventilation and air
conditioning systems, and more jury assembly space.